Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Works, sunglasses at night-style

All right, so Fields of Donahue got to the whole "screencap of coaching staff from official site" thing first, bit I've got to point this out:

Curtis Luper wears his awesome orange sunglasses (or normal glasses?) even in his staff mugshot! I'm starting to wonder ... does he ever take them off? Was he wearing them when he first met his wife's parents? When he goes for a swim in the ocean? What if he, like, somehow gets nominated for an Emmy? Would he wear them to the ceremony with his tux? I hope so--they are orange, after all.

Let's just nip this in the bud. Commenters as various as Doug Segrest and the Pigskin Pathos (who's surely, surely risking some kind of copyright lawsuit from the dormant War Eagle Reader by elbowing in on the "old pictures of Auburn streakers" turf TWER so famously claimed long ago) are trying to gauge what postseason treats the Auburn men's hoops team might have in store for us. Not totally surprisingly, it's the blogger who has the better read on things: while the Pathos is expecting an NIT (or other assorted postseason tournament) berth, Segrest tries to float the idea Auburn's on the NCAA Tournament bubble ... and that's just not the case.

In an SEC this watered-down and with precisely one nonconference victory over the RPI top 100 (by two at No. 92 Virginia), 9-7 sure as hell ain't gonna cut it and even 10-6 would require at least two victories in Tampa to worm their way into the conversation. To really get themselves onto the right side of the bubble, Auburn would have to sweep their final six games ... which include four roadies, including trips to both of the other two top teams in the SEC West. If you'll recall 1) Auburn's last road game was a 19-point defeat to Ole Miss 2) the last time we let ourselves start feeling good about this team, they went out and lost to Vanderbilt at home. The only realistic road to the NCAAs remains the SEC auto-bid.

More hoops. That's not to say that Auburn hasn't made some sort of progress this season: the Pathos is right that an NIT berth, at minimum, looks a perfectly reasonable goal if they can win in Athens tonight (at a Dawg team that should be due for a letdown after their shock win over the Gators last Saturday), take the two home games, and beat the Tide in Coleman. They're good enough to pull that off, as John Gasaway's latest efficiency numbers demonstrate. As a hoops dork who's been reading Gasaway for years and can't remember off-hand another time he's said anything about Auburn, seeing him label the Tigers a "quiet surprise" was kind of thrilling.

The athletics department took the beat writers on a tour of the new hoops arena construction site this week, which resulted in a slew of photo galleries and updates on the arena's progress. I enjoyed Fields of Donahue's response that the 9,000-seat capacity is perfect for Auburn basketball. He writes:
And trust me, it can be loud. Very loud. Just look at Duke when they fill Cameron Indoor up. That's only about 9,500, and that's easily one of the best atmospheres in basketball. Heck, my high school gym (granted, that was DeMatha up in Maryland and basketball there is huge) only held 1,500 people and it got louder than I've heard some games in Beard-Eaves get. It's not a matter of the number of people when you're talking about basketball like it is in football. It's indoors, and 9,000 people in a well built arena will provide a better home court advantage than 12,000 in a run-down Beard-Eaves.
Speaking as someone who still considers Birmingham-Southern's Bill Battle Coliseum (oh, BSC hoops, how I miss you) his favorite gym in the world, 20,000-seaters and massive spaces don't do a whole lot for the sport of basketball. There's only 1 players on a 90-foot court. The more intimate the setting an the closer everyone feels to the action, the better the atmosphere, and that's a fact, Jack. Particularly at a school where basketball is always, always going to be a pleasant spring diversion from the business of football, 9,000 seats is perfect.

More on the staff infection. K-Scar has a new column up on the completed Auburn football staff, and it's not really his best work:
Ted Roof: 45. Gus Malzahn and Curtis Luper: 43. Tracy Rocker: 42. Jeff Grimes: 40. Trooper Taylor and Tommy Thigpen: 38. Jay Boulware: 36.

That means the average age of the Auburn assistants is 42.

That means they're less likely to get offended if a player wears his cap backwards and more likely to wear their own caps that way.

"They all bring something to the table," Rocker said. "No doubt, a lot of them bring energy. Everybody has a little humorous side to them.

It makes it fun."

Hey, if you're going to recruit a teenager, you have to relate to him, and if you're going to relate to a teenager, it helps if you're young enough to remember when you were one.
Well, I guess. But Scarbinsky glosses over the best part of having a young staff: plain old-fashioned energy, man. Particularly in a business that grinds up its adherents and spits them out with as much regularity as this one, a 40-year-old is just going to have more drive and more willingness to burn that two-ended candle than a 50-year-old. That explains the importance of hiring young a lot better than backwards caps, anyway, I would think.

Elsewhere, Paul Gattis fires a shot across Tuberville's bow in response to the "eight coaches recruiting Alabama!" plan:
Does it matter if Auburn can actually walk the walk after talking this talk? Not today, not in mid-February, not when Signing Day 2010 is more than 11 months away.

But it gives hope, desperately needed hope, to a program whose recruiting trail didn't begin until it saw "Welcome to Georgia."

This is why Auburn needed to give Tommy Tuberville a pat on the back and a push to the door. Imagine if Julio Jones barely gave Alabama a glance, much less serious consideration, like he basically ignored Auburn.

The same goes for the jewels of the 2009 in-state recruiting crop, Dre Kirkpatrick and D.J. Fluker - Alabama signees that barely, if at all, acknowledged Auburn's existence.

But this confidence - brashness? - coming from Auburn when it comes to recruiting is long overdue. If the Tigers aren't surrendering on the field, why surrender on the recruiting trail?
I'm certainly not an adherent to the "if Tubby couldn't recruit Alabama, he needed to go" philosophy, but there's not much question that his more Georgia-and-Florida-centric efforts hadn't enjoyed nearly as much success the last couple of years as they had to to make things work--so Gattis is right that the change in philosophy is probably a good thing for Auburn.

It's also worth checking out this Sept. 2006 article on Phillip Lolley's vein-bursting intensity during his high school days. Like so:
Lolley absolutely refused to allow another team to believe it could intimidate the Chiefs. Whenever North Jackson went into a hostile environment, on the Chiefs' first offensive play he would call for a toss sweep into the opponents' sideline.

"That was just to let them know we weren't scared of anything," said longtime Chiefs defensive coordinator Barry Shrader.
Good heavens. (Thanks to Grotus for the link.) And oh, before we move on, Chizik hired away his old tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at ISU to fill a still-TBD administrative role at Auburn. On the one hand, I'd say this is another example of a Chizik sales job convincing someone to take a lateral or even backwards move to join the Auburn revolution, but then again the guy went to Samford, so the homecoming aspect probably had something to do with it, too.

Around the BlAUgosphere. Hey, look who posted something! Like everyone else, Will's been encouraged by the Chiznick's hires, but he's not quite ready to follow him to Earth's ends just yet, either:
(T)he jury is obviously still out until Chizik has several games under his belt as Auburn's head coach. I'm not going to go all sunshine-pumpery here and declare that I was nuts to think hiring a guy with a 10-game losing streak was a bad idea. To be perfectly honest, the reports out of Iowa regarding chaos on the sidelines and poor game planning still scare me to death. As an alumnus and life-long fan, I'm quite happy to be supportive of the team , but the coaches have to earn it, especially a coach who comes in with a less-than-stellar (let's be honest here--really awful) track record.
True dat. Chizik (and, to a lesser extent, Kiffykins) will be the acid tests for the importance of an overall staff rather than the head coach himself. If Chizik is a failure at ISU with a less-than-optimal staff and a success at Auburn with the chance to hire the guys he really wanted ... won't that mean that what we ought to look for in a head coach isn't his head coaching ability at all, but who he's willing to surround himself with and how much he can get not from the team himself, but from his assistants? It's going to be ... and interesting fall, no doubt about that.

Elsewhere, War Eagle Atlanta has a kick-ass look at which SEC teams get hated on the most by their SEC brethren at Track'Em, and Lifetime of Defeats has an early glance at Auburn's 10 most important players in 2009.

Besuboru! The news here isn't good, actually: Auburn was picked fifth in the West in the preseason coaches' poll and one of our senior captains and starting catcher broke his hand. As I know virtually nothing about Auburn baseball, I can't speak to what eithero f these developments "means," exactly. Sorry.

Etc. A top 2010 running back will come to Auburn's junior day ... and as someone who sees Deadspin as a "cure" for mainstream sports coverage that's even worse than the disease, I'm enjoying seeing one of its writers torn to shreds.


jd said...

I found the following interesting:

Auburn currently has a Pomeroy rating of 87. Only Lebo's 2007 team finished the season with a higher ranking. However, none of Lebo's teams have ever finished higher than Ellis' final team's rating of 62.

I think if we win out and make it to the championship game of the SEC tournament, we'll be at least in the discussion for at-large. That would leave us at 24-10, 2nd in the SEC West, 11-5 in league in the regular season, and 11-1 in our last 12 games. Outside of that, I agree, the only way we get in is an SEC tournament championship.

Jerry Hinnen said...

JD, I'll certainly agree that in the win-out-til-the-SEC-tourney-final, Auburn snags an at-large. That's two wins vs. LSU (including on the road) and at least one more vs. a tourney team in Tampa vs. what looks to be the usual soft bubble. I'd feel pretty good about Auburn's chances if that came to pass. The problem is, it won't in a bajillion years.

Your look at the Pomeroy numbers are why financial considerations are the only reason I'll accept Lebo's return under any circumstances other than the scenario listed above. He's had five years and he's still treading the same water he was when he got here, essentially. If I felt like Auburn could really afford to get rid of him, I'd thank him for his service and look elsewhere regardless of how the season ends.

jrsuicide said...

what is all this basketball you guys are talking about?

i'm actually planning on going out tonight and watching the Tigers vs. the Dawgs in Athens tonight.

jrsuicide said...

wow, that was redudant.

easyedwin said...

JH, you were quoted in AUBURN MAGAZINE's spring issue....something about the Chiz hire that you wrote in Dec. I will be shocked if the basketball team makes ANY post season play!!!

jd said...

Jerry, the bad thing is that this is far and away Lebo's best team, and we will certainly slide back next year. We lose Korvotney Barber, Rasheem Barrett, and Quantez Robertson to graduation. Our recruiting class isn't exactly off the chain.

Anonymous said...

as they say, the future's so bright...

Jerry Hinnen said...

easyed, something I wrote about the Chiz in December? Uh-oh. It probably wasn't very positive. Guess it's a good thing someone's reading, though.

jd, I agree wholeheartedly. As I said: I'd really like to see him replaced. Just don't know if Auburn's got the cash at the moment, and if they don't, I can live with one more year of Lebo.